Urban Jungle Greens Community, Including Rooftop Garden At Paradiso

When Urban Jungle on 1526 East Passyunk Avenue first opened its doors in December of 2009, owner and president Curtis Alexander sold Christmas trees to the neighborhood. Two years and $100K of building rehabilitation later has converted Urban Jungle into a full service landscaper, classroom and retail store.

The store’s home base on Passyunk Avenue has provided a great deal of community greening efforts to the East Passyunk Area. Notable changes to the Passyunk fountain area have been seen over the past few weeks: new trees, tiles, fence removal and word of possible benches. Walking down Passyunk Avenue, a surprising amount of plants and greenery can be contributed to Urban Jungles efforts. This includes the bamboo and rooftop garden at Paradiso, the green wall at Le Virtu, the façade at Tre Scalini, irrigated window boxes outside Black ‘n Brew and planters outside Izumi to name a few. Urban Jungle even held a fundraiser flower sale for the Passyunk Civic Square Association (PCSA).

Alexander’s niche is vertical greening, or green walls: plants and flowers in modular planters that can hang on an interior or exterior flat walls. Vertical greening can be irrigated or self-watered, which is the key, according to Alexander, to urban gardening. To learn more about city gardening, Urban Jungle provides classes to green city-dwellers thumbs to teach how to make and care for window boxes, grow summer vegetables and even build terrariums. With community greening blooming, hopefully other neighborhoods will be inspired to keep their residential and commercial properties just as fresh. —Suzy Grimberg


  • Pd

    That lot is a ridiculous waste and eyesore. This project would be a great improvement to the neighborhood. Putting in retail there could increase foot traffic and benefit all businesses. I guess Begosh’s concern is a Starbucks or something. And I understand that. But this is good for the neighborhood and I (like many) resent the disingenuous arguments against the project. I go into Betty’s about once a week or two and get treats for my kids. I won’t anymore. As for Girl Dog Bike or whatever, well, I don’t even know what to say.

  • Joseph Minardi

    It makes me sick that one crackpot can hold up a development like this for purely arbitrary reasons. I’ve seen this happen all over the city. The people who stifle development in Philadelphia deserve nothing more than misery and failure.

    • Newcomer

      You are right!!!! I don’t get how anyone from this city after going through the Crackcocaine era of the 80’s and watching many once well established neighborhoods become dumping grounds will fight change. I think the business owners are opposing due to fear of competition. Anyone familiar with that neighborhood knows what it looked like 15 years ago and I am sure that they are not complaining over the changes.

  • Joseph Minardi

    It makes me sick that one crackpot can hold up a development like this for purely arbitrary reasons. I’ve seen this happen all over the city. The people who stifle development in Philadelphia deserve nothing more than misery and failure.

  • Newcomer

    This neighborhood going through Growing Pains? I have never seen so much improvement in such a short span in my life. I doubt the opposers will win.

  • Hotassescorpio

    OMG these people are just insane!

  • Carol1984

    The plans for parking and green space appear to be thoughtful, however as always the neighborhood wants to ensure that this new development won’t create more issues with traffic, parking and overall hardscaping. The intersection is dangerous where Grays Ferry goes from a two-way intersection to a one way, with Septa busses driving well above the speed limit. Signage needs to be improved significantly at that corner with more residents and foot traffic.

    As far as adding green space, the proposed green roof would be for residents, not the neighborhood. It would be a great improvement if the two triangles were more than just barren concrete planters and sidewalk at that corner. If the construction proposed taking away some open space(there is a flower garden along the perimeter of the lot), it should give back and improve what is otherwise unused concrete at the triangles.

    The plans are definitely taller than any building on that block.

    Either way the plans look to be an improvement from a concrete parking lot.

  • Sara19146

    Been to Fudgies a few times. Not super nice people in there. Their opposition is beyond ridiculous. But that’s Philly for your. Everyone’s out for their own self interest.

    Girl Bike Dog …. wow… what can be said about them. And Barb Failer is a D bag.

  • Yoga2light

    Big building. More people. And no one mentions more parking spaces, more traffic flow challenges, etc. etc.
    Architects – EVOLVE your thinking.
    When you’re planning, THINK first about ALL of it – not just your piece of the pie!

  • The developers are springing for an underground parking garage and still people complain about parking? I can think of two stores that I will no longer be patronizing.

  • The biggest obstacle to this project being built is not the neighbors but financing. That’s always the case in this economy. The first thing to go will be the underground parking.

  • Mikewang99

    Betty’s just lost my business… shame because I live nearby, walk by two or three times a day, and enjoyed going in but their opposition is so small minded and antithetical to what’s right for this ever-evolving neighborhood. Bummer.

  • Brad

    Today, at Betty’s, I (very cordially) told Liz Begosh that I would be boycotting her business and urging all my friends to do the same until this lawsuit is dropped.

  • Brad

    Today, at Betty’s, I (very cordially) told Liz Begosh that I would be boycotting her business and urging all my friends to do the same until this lawsuit is dropped.

  • Community United

    Wow! Great to see all the support for the neighborhood. Increased commercial interest is ALWAYS a good thing for a community. Investment breeds jobs and a healthy community. Sad that a milkbone and a piece of sweet treat can’t see the big picture. Bravo to those who chose to support the community, by what ever means. Doesn’t sound like Betty or the Bone care too much about that.

  • Community United

    Wow! Great to see all the support for the neighborhood. Increased commercial interest is ALWAYS a good thing for a community. Investment breeds jobs and a healthy community. Sad that a milkbone and a piece of sweet treat can’t see the big picture. Bravo to those who chose to support the community, by what ever means. Doesn’t sound like Betty or the Bone care too much about that.

  • Brian Marsh

    Tonight (March 29th) there is a neighborhood meeting to discuss this project & specifically this issue. I can’t remember exact time or location (a GHO church, IIRC), if anybody has it, please post. Thanks!

  • Lawlea

    What holier than thou crap! Maybe Liz Begosh and her mom want everyone to be as pretentious as they are. It’s so obvious that a functioning business on that corner would be better than what’s there now . . . It makes me angry to see her get press like some new age Julia Child when she’s just a small minded shop owner out to prevent competition.

    p.s. [Girl BikeDog] should spend more time making their own shop less of an eye sore and less time complaining about what real business people are doing.

  • 25thstted

    Not sure where all the people commenting live but I actually live in this neighborhood and think the project would be overwhelming. Originally I heard that the space would be converted to house a farmer’s market type of shop. I was looking forward to that being developed but more houses and retail? We just fought 2301 Washington to no avail and there that beauty is totally different than what was sold to us at the SOSNA meetings and vacant other than one shop. Go Betty and Girl Bike Dog fight the fight, I’ll support your business!

    • Alice

      I will no longer shop at your store and will ebay my bag once you are in chapter 13. The bags smell like paint anyways and the zipper sucks like POO

  • Endersbean

    its so big and ugly.  3 story townhouses would look so much nicer and fit the neighborhood!!!